Many people start with dry, chapped hands that later become patchy, red, scaly, and inflamed. Numerous items can irritate skin. These include overexposure to water, too much dry air, soaps, detergents, solvents, cleaning agents, chemicals, rubber gloves, and even ingredients in skin and personal care products. Once skin becomes red and dry, even so-called “harmless” things like water and baby products can irritate the rash, making it worse. Your doctor will try to find out what substance in your everyday routine could be causing or contributing to the problem. Often your skin will get better by changing products or avoiding an ingredient completely.
A tendency to get skin reactions is often inherited. People with these tendencies may have a history of hay fever and/or asthma. They may also have food allergies and a skin condition called atopic dermatitis or eczema. Their skin can turn red, and itch, indicating an allergy, after contact with many substances that might not bother other people’s skin.